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A Brief History of Victoria Falls

A record of over 2000 years of man’s evolution has been found in the Victoria Falls region, from the early Stone Age through to the Iron Age to present day.

The Bushman were undoubtedly the earliest settlers in the region, followed by the Tonga-Ila people from the south in 1500AD. These peaceful pastoralists were soon defeated by the Makokolo, who remained in the area and were amongst Dr. Livingstone’s party that first “discovered” the Falls.

The Zambezi has been known outside of Africa for thousands of years. Certainly the Zambezi was a highway for Arab trade during the first millennium AD.

Dr David Livingstone was the first European to view the Falls on the 16 November 1855, who described it as “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in Their Flight”. He named the Falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria.

Forty years after his discovery, coal deposits were found at Hwange (Zimbabwe) and copper in Zambia. The construction of the Cape to Cairo railway was thus diverted to cross the Zambezi just below Victoria Falls in 1905. This opened up the region to an influx of tourists and to cater for them the Victoria Falls Hotel was opened in 1904 which has since been visited by royalty and stars alike.

More reading

For those interested in history, extracts from Dr. Livingstone’s journals can be seen on the Eyewitness To History site

The museum in Livingstone (Zambia) has a comprehensive collection of memorabilia relating to Dr. Livingstone and  permanent interpretive exhibitions on ethnology, natural history of the area and Zambia’s history. If you would like to take a tour to the Livingstone Museum please contact us to arrange.

For more about David Livingstone’s life visit the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum in Scotland. See more here
For books on the history of Victoria Falls try the ZambeziBookCompany

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